HGAT Guide to Galle Sri Lanka
Last year, BW and I struggled to find a holiday destination. As we were heading to Dubai for Sole DXB, we decided Mumbai would be ideal for a few days (read my halal food guide here) but still had a few days leftover. Hmm, where could we go that had a beach as well as good weather? Ah, Galle Sri Lanka.
Little did we know, our booking coincided with tropical storms! Galle was just coming out of their monsoon season and we had managed to catch it!
GETTING TO GALLE SRI LANKA
As we had a stopover in Mumbai, our flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB) was approximately four hours via Jet Airways (website here). Although rare to find, you can opt for a direct flight from London to Colombo via Srilankan airlines (website here), which will take up to 10.5 hours.
Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka, and although a fantastic location (especially for foodies), it wasn’t our final stop. Galle, located on the South coast, was where we were heading and entailed a 2.5 hour drive down the highway in the treacherous weather in a rickety mini bus!
WHERE TO STAY
Having had a long journey, I was happy to arrive at the beautiful Mosvold Villa – each room having the perfect union between a cosy beach hut and a luxury hotel. With only 12 rooms, Mosvold Villa thrive on giving each one of their guests a personalised experience and can organise massages, surf instructors and tours too.
WHAT TO DO IN GALLE SRI LANKA
→ Yala National Park
We took a trip up to Yala National Park, known to be Sri Lanka’s biggest safari park. Fun fact: did you know it has the richest density of leopards in the world? Well, we managed to see everything – elephants, crocodiles, a ridiculous amounts of peacocks, and buffalos – everything except the leopard! The ride is a little bumpy and can be long so be sure to pack some food beforehand! The national park is 2 hour drive from Galle.
As we were staying in a surfer’s town (and had planned to go surfing!), the waters can be quite rough. Like omg-I-almost-drowned kinda rough. HOWEVER, this does not mean you can’t enjoy relaxing on the clean, soft sand as well as the warm water near the shore. If you enjoy surfing or are keen to learn, Galle, Sri Lanka, is ideal for you!
→ Galle Fort
Galle Fort has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site with a heavy dutch colonial feel to it and can be covered in under three hours. It is home to Meera mosque, the Dutch reformed church, Galle Clocktower, and also the Galle Lighthouse, all of which are worth seeing. You’ll also find antique and jewellery shops, as well as local restaurants, inside the fort. BW and I managed to finish the whole town in under two hours, its that small!
→ Handunugoda Tea Plantation
I was sad that we missed out on an iconic tour but the weather just did not permit us to leave! Sri Lanka is known for their tea plantations, and if you’re a tea lover, from masala to green, it is well worth a visit to see how it is made. The Handunugoda plantation is just under an hour away from Galle.
WHAT TO EAT
The Sri Lankan food culture is known for the following things: fish curry, jackfruit curry, kothus, and hoppers. Oh, and a lot of coconut too. We may have not covered all the foodie items out there, but we managed a good amount.
→ MOSVOLD VILLA
Mosvold Villa so kindly provided halal meat for the duration of our stay, meaning burgers, steaks, and meat curries were on the menu! The vegetarian and the fish options actually fared better than their meaty counterparts, and the breakfasts were always generous. Naturally, I tried out everything I possibly could on both menus.
→ STREET FOOD
A popular street food kiosk that you’ll see on almost every corner is a roti/kottu stall. Stand next to the window and watch one of the cooks work his magic on the roti dough. He’ll then stuff the dough with your chosen ingredients (garlic and cheese for me – lucky BW eh?), before folding and frying in a mini pool of butter. It was to DIE for, especially with the chilli sauce, and by far, the best thing I ate that trip.
HALAL RESTAURANTS IN GALLE SRI LANKA
In terms of halal food, it isn’t that easy BUT the hotels are incredibly accommodating if you ask them in advance. You may also get lucky by asking the locals for halal restaurants in Galle, especially near the mosque in Galle Forte.
Situated above a boutique indie shop, we almost missed Crepe-ology , the number one restaurant in Galle, on our walk in Galle Forte. Luckily for my strong foodie senses, I found them via their wonderful sweet pancake aroma. I opted for the super healthy banana and nutella crepe, whilst BW went for the Mexican chicken wrap. All the meats served here are halal, plus they have gluten free options too!
→ OTHER HALAL RESTAURANTS TO CHECK OUT:
Although the trip wasn’t perfect (tropical storms, cockroaches [omg kill me now], terrible wifi), BW and I had a fantastic time and were in awe of how beautiful Galle Sri Lanka really was. Lush rainforests surround every roadside, friendly people everywhere you go (the first time we haven’t been ripped off on holiday!), chilled out beaches; it is the ideal place to unwind.
HOTELS IN GALLE SRI LANKA
MOSQUES IN GALLE SRI LANKA
→ Galle Fort Mosque/Jama Al-Khairat Mosque/Meera Mosque (I know! Three names!)
→ Ya Hussain Masjid
→ Shekh Yusuf Sahib Valiyullah Mosque
→ Baddare Mosque
TIPS FOR GALLE SRI LANKA
→ Do not underestimate the current; I would only enter the water if there is a lifeguard on duty – speaking from experience having been wiped out twice and almost drowning.
→ The best time to visit would be February – we got caught in a tropical storm at the end of November!
→ Stay a few nights in Colombo as a breather before driving down to the coast.
→ Be sure to bargain with the shopkeepers for any antiques, jewellery, or clothing that you buy.
If you’re looking for more beaches, read these guides:
TO SEE MORE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS, CLICK HERE.